Now that a minor version of the Spanish Flu has finished cutting a wide swath through the household, Mr. Understanding falling victim last week, things are slowly returning to normal. I, however, am teetering between being aplatanado (listless, like a banana, from whence the word comes) and marking time til our family jaunt to Rome on Wednesday, paranoically scrutinizing every twinge of my body to see if I will be the final victim.
I will just admit here that I am a terrible nurse, a fact which mortifies me since I have so often needed the nursing services of others. I have had a really busy last couple of weeks. And after canceling most events during the week the children were sweating it out, I selfishly was not really prepared to reprise my role of Flo Nightengale. Fortunately, I did not have to. Mr. Understanding, after all, lives up to his name (which goes a loooooong way towards mitigating the “I told you so” factor). I slept in the guest room, entering our boudoir only to deposit beverages and ibuprofen, and went about my business.
One of the events I was not eager to cancel was a book talk given by Giles Tremlett. La Lopez had suggested I read his book, “Ghosts of Spain”, which I wish I had read before moving to Madrid. In person, Mr. Tremlett looks like a more sober, intellectual version of Mel Gibson. He was hawking his new book, “Catherine of Aragon”, and gave the International Newcomer’s Club of Madrid a preview. I suggest you all buy it for your next book club selection. Ferdinand and Isabel’s youngest daughter, Catherine, was by no means a patsy; her daughter Mary inherited this iron will which she later used to burn Mr. Understanding’s forefather at the stake (or so we surmise).
Another event I was loathe to miss was the Skye Line fashion show at the American School of Madrid. Skye Mina, an ASM alumna and our sometime babysitter, produced a fashion show for her thesis project at the Instituto Europeo di Design. The line of prom dresses was created out of leftover scraps of fabric and other recycled bits, such as the underskirt of a wedding dress. The models were all high school girls of every size and shape, thereby proving that skinny super models are superfluous. If she had been my own daughter, I could not have been more proud. Although Skye had lots of help and an excellent mentor to guide her, the vision was all hers and the collection suited the various aspects of her own personality. The bodice of her own dress was made of Metro tickets. Her show was a triumph. I will see if I can post a video of it later. Keep an ojo out for her!
Then on Sunday Mr. Understanding and I became padriños to Rafael, a son of one of our fellow American churchgoers. Rafael, who is six, was baptized along with his twin brother Luca and his little sister Alessandra. Two other bible bangers were the fellow madriñas. Feverish, Rafael soldiered on to church in order to receive his blessing. Earlier in the week, I had called him to have a little chat with him. Here is a slice of our conversation:
EPP: So, Rafa, what are your favorite things to do?
R: Well, two of them are bad, so I don’t think I should tell you. The other is, when I go to sleep with my dad.
EPP: Does he read to you?
EPP: What are some of your favorite foods?
R: Potato chips. Hamburger. Meat. Anything meat.
EPP: Interesting! And what is your favorite game?
R: Marbles. My dad played them when he was a kid and he showed us how.
EPP: Part of my job as your godmother is to listen to you if anything is bugging you. Is anything bugging you right now?
R: YES! My little sister! She is bugging me A LOT. She wants to play our games and really, they are too violent and not good for her.
Marbles? Isn’t that a happy change? I was laughing on the inside so hard, utterly charmed. I am still wondering whether I should be concerned about the two bad favorite things Rafa likes to do but think I will let his mother worry about that instead.
Most of the time, as an expat, you wonder what you are doing living in a foreign country, exiled in a way from your homeland’s normal routine. Keeping in touch with friends around the globe is hard work: time zones, faulty postal systems, Chinese firewalls, and not enough hours in a day conspire to end relationships. This is a sad reality of the expat life. But it is moments like on Sunday, seeing those sweet kids’ heads bent over the baptismal font, warm water being scooped onto their heads by a shell, that I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and whose names will be inked into my address book forever.
I will post after Roma!